Al-Qaeda's Quest for Nuclear Weapons

Rick Moran
A disturbing piece in today's FrontPage.com by Christopher Carson that traces the efforts of al-Qaeda to acquire a nuclear weapon to hit the United States:

Where a nuclear attack once may have been beyond the capacities of stateless terrorists, that is no longer the case. One need only consider Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), mastermind of 9/11 and chief operating officer of al-Qaeda, who revealed under intensive interrogation -- including the much-maligned tactic of waterboarding -- that a nuclear attack against the United States was a top priority for al-Qaeda.

According to the New York Daily News and its sources, the captive KSM told his interrogators that Osama bin Laden was planning a "nuclear hell storm" in America. Normally such a lurid claim would be disbelieved by our "inside-the-box" intelligence officers, but KSM's recovered laptop had corroborating details.

The agents learned that the chain of command for this new operation went simply: bin Laden, his terrorist doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, a mysterious scientist named "Dr. X," and an operational coordinator. The scientist turned out to be Dr. A.Q. Khan, the founder of Pakistan's atomic bomb, national hero, and nuke material proliferator extraordinaire. The operations ringleader was known as "Jafer the Pilot" (Jaffer al-Tayyar). This ID was
corroborated by former al-Qaeda No. 3 Abu Zubaydah when he himself was waterboarded.

Dr. Khan's input was important: One month before 9/11, according to The Washington Post, bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met around a blazing campfire with Pakistani scientists from an A.Q. Khan-affiliated group called Umma Tameer-E-Nau, to discuss how al-Qaeda could build a nuclear device themselves and ship it to a target.


Carson then details the very serious efforts of al-Qaeda to acquire the materials and knowledge to build nuclear weapons - a total of 7 to be detonated simultaneously in 7 American cities.

Such an attack would finish the US as a major power for at least a decade and could result in an economic meltdown we'd be even longer in recovering. Millions could be killed instantly with many millions more made into refugees fleeing the blast zones. The resulting chaos would snap the bonds of civilization and much of the country would descend to unimaginable depths.

But is this scenario plausible? Experts have been weighing in on both sides of this issue and basically, there is agreement that the terrorists are unlikely to have the capability of building their own nukes (which require a huge technological and industrial infrastructure) but the possibility of them attaining nuclear weapons from a third party cannot be ruled out.

Hence the common sense necessity of keeping the Iranians from building the bomb as well as keeping a close eye on Pakistan to make sure no nuclear devices are transferred to extremists.

Our domestic opposition to confronting Iran over their enrichment activities assure us that the Iranians - or any other nation for that matter - would be crazy to give nuclear weapons to terrorists.

When dealing with fanatics, I would say that very well might be the case.
A disturbing piece in today's FrontPage.com by Christopher Carson that traces the efforts of al-Qaeda to acquire a nuclear weapon to hit the United States:

Where a nuclear attack once may have been beyond the capacities of stateless terrorists, that is no longer the case. One need only consider Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), mastermind of 9/11 and chief operating officer of al-Qaeda, who revealed under intensive interrogation -- including the much-maligned tactic of waterboarding -- that a nuclear attack against the United States was a top priority for al-Qaeda.

According to the New York Daily News and its sources, the captive KSM told his interrogators that Osama bin Laden was planning a "nuclear hell storm" in America. Normally such a lurid claim would be disbelieved by our "inside-the-box" intelligence officers, but KSM's recovered laptop had corroborating details.

The agents learned that the chain of command for this new operation went simply: bin Laden, his terrorist doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, a mysterious scientist named "Dr. X," and an operational coordinator. The scientist turned out to be Dr. A.Q. Khan, the founder of Pakistan's atomic bomb, national hero, and nuke material proliferator extraordinaire. The operations ringleader was known as "Jafer the Pilot" (Jaffer al-Tayyar). This ID was
corroborated by former al-Qaeda No. 3 Abu Zubaydah when he himself was waterboarded.

Dr. Khan's input was important: One month before 9/11, according to The Washington Post, bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met around a blazing campfire with Pakistani scientists from an A.Q. Khan-affiliated group called Umma Tameer-E-Nau, to discuss how al-Qaeda could build a nuclear device themselves and ship it to a target.


Carson then details the very serious efforts of al-Qaeda to acquire the materials and knowledge to build nuclear weapons - a total of 7 to be detonated simultaneously in 7 American cities.

Such an attack would finish the US as a major power for at least a decade and could result in an economic meltdown we'd be even longer in recovering. Millions could be killed instantly with many millions more made into refugees fleeing the blast zones. The resulting chaos would snap the bonds of civilization and much of the country would descend to unimaginable depths.

But is this scenario plausible? Experts have been weighing in on both sides of this issue and basically, there is agreement that the terrorists are unlikely to have the capability of building their own nukes (which require a huge technological and industrial infrastructure) but the possibility of them attaining nuclear weapons from a third party cannot be ruled out.

Hence the common sense necessity of keeping the Iranians from building the bomb as well as keeping a close eye on Pakistan to make sure no nuclear devices are transferred to extremists.

Our domestic opposition to confronting Iran over their enrichment activities assure us that the Iranians - or any other nation for that matter - would be crazy to give nuclear weapons to terrorists.

When dealing with fanatics, I would say that very well might be the case.